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Barry Frydlender

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a n d r e a m ei s li n g a l l ery Cover Glimmer, 2004 (Detail) Interior Front Cover Noach, 2014 (Detail)

a n d r e a m ei s li n g a l l ery

Barry Frydlender ya f f 0 -t e l av i v

ya f f o -t e l av i v barry frydlender Texts Sharon Rotbard Ileana Selejan Leon Wieseltier Project Management Adi Puterman Design Topos Graphics Printing Benchmark Graphics, LTD All Images © Barry Frydlender, 2014 ISBN: 978-1-4951-0996-6 Published by Andrea Meislin Gallery 534 West 24th Street New York, New York 10011 USA Published on the occasion of the exhibition Barry Frydlender:  Yaffo-Tel Aviv Andrea Meislin Gallery May 6 – June 21, 2014 Printed and bound in the USA Edition of 1,000

Texts by Sharon Rotbard, Ileana Selejan and Leon Wieseltier

the ethic of attention: grateful thoughts on barry frydlender

L e o n W i e s e lt i e r

At least since Dante, the discovery of the vernacular has given art a new beginning. The rejection of authorized subjects and accredited forms usually happens under the pressure of experience: the artist begins to notice things that he has not been instructed to notice — and to notice also that the sanctioned approaches are yielding meager rewards in perception and expression, so that ideals and clichés (even noble ones!) are beginning to smother the vitality of art and dull the senses of both artists and spectators. One way to conquer the deadening effects of accepted artistic practice is to walk out the door and into life, into what is actually there. The vernacular — verbal and visual — awaits the artist as a constant source of refreshment. The energies of ordinary people in ordinary motion can be extraordinary. As Frank O’Hara once wrote prayerfully, “and may I be at least as alive as the vulgar”.

The Ethic of Attention

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In the city this means also the physical vernacular: the street. Painters and photographers have regularly preferred the stimulations of the found disorder of urban circulation. The street bristles with energy without direction; it is crowded with purposes and itineraries, but it is guided by no single purpose and no single itinerary. It is an endless series of developing stories and complicating compositions. You cannot come to the street with formulas of movement and expectations of coherence, because the street will always defeat them with its improvisations. The street requires a high level of attention. The homely ones, too: streets that brim with life are always more interesting than streets that brim with money.

only the world and the preparedness of the eye to do the work of inspecting it. Frydlender is the sworn enemy of lazy vision. When we say that something is colorless, what we are really saying is that we cannot see the color. We are admitting to disinterest or failure. But nothing is colorless. The scene depicted in Flood, a brilliant photograph that repays close study, is “colorless” — but regard those hot lyrical umbrellas and parkas, and at the soft blues and greens and silvers and browns of the fallen water. Who, at the scene itself, would have noticed this chromatic diversity, by turns subtle and florid? But the photograph tutors the eye in the endlessness of perception. When you come away from this image you know how to see puddles. Congratulations! How many people know how to see puddles?

The vernacular represents a remarkable faith in the world. It says: look no further. What you seek in the way of truth and beauty is already right there before your eyes. But look.

Lovers of art may sometimes forget that a great deal of beauty is accidental; not made but found. The artist does things with what he has found, of course. But creation was preceded by discovery.

The vernacular is a training in perception, a kind of cognitive reeducation. It dispenses with many of the qualities that draw the eye to the phenomenal world: symmetry, glamor, history, sanctity. It makes backgrounds into foregrounds. It teaches the charisma of the commonplace.

In the astonishing photograph called Pitzutziyah, an epic account of the Israeli version of a 7-11, Frydlender has employed digital means to realize what I think of as Van Eyck’s dream. Some years ago, during an almost mystical day with Van Eyck in Bruges, I realized that the Flemish master’s verisimilitude, his infinitely painstaking reproduction of the details of the appearances, was more than just “realism”. It was the expression of a belief in the plenitude of the world. Van Eyck showed not everything the eye could see, but everything the eye could see if the eye could see everything. For the eye cannot really see all the particulars in the painting. This extreme of representation, this ideal of completeness, is not the depiction of reality, but the imagination of it. It is a

Unlike the recognition of the other sort of charisma, which is usually just a cheap vicarious thrill, the recognition of the charisma of the commonplace requires discipline. There are no hooks; actuality is the only attraction. But the pleasures reward the work. Is there anything more exciting than seduction from an unexpected source? The premise of Barry Frydlender’s pictures is that there is no human situation and no human scene that is beneath human attention. Also that there is no such thing as blandness. There is


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fantasy of perfect visibility. The same is the case with the candies and the groceries, the cosmos of snacks, in Frydlender’s photograph. It is the rhapsody of things.

works lends them a cosmological air. He creates local cosmologies. There are no self-sufficient contexts; instead there are intrusions and juxtapositions and ironies, the bringing together of objects and settings that do not go together, except that they exist side by side. As the perspective expands, the incongruities multiply. The adjacency of the cemetery to the swimming pool — the odd but true dialogue between the rectangles of the graves and the rectangles of the loungers — in Estates is a fine example of Frydlender’s poetical contingencies of place. The pool cries out to the sea on the horizon. What comes between the pool and the sea, between these pagan blues, is the pallor of the graveyard. The tiny swimmers in the pool do not see the promise of mortality that lies just over the wall. It is just as well. They are not swimming for their lives.

The larger the picture, the clearer the details. This ideal of clarity used to be called the God’s-eye view of the world. God is gone from Frydlender’s universe, of course, but everything is still seen from close up far away. Frydlender zooms in and zooms out at the same time. This effect is owed to the way he stitches his composition together from many shots. But it is also the expression of a vast cognitive ambition, of an oldfashioned appetite for the whole truth. When Frydlender repeats figures in some of his street scenes, as in Friday and Little West 12th Street and Gansevoort, and shows them moving within the still image, so that he pictures their progress — this is genuinely exciting, because he has found a way to photograph time. The documentary impulse here yields to a narrative impulse, without any compromise of pictorial integrity. These manipulations situate the picture somewhere between photography and film. There are incidents in a duration — the man in the orange tank top leaving the bistro on the right of the image gestures over the roof of a taxi on the left of the image. The temporality inside the image seems perfectly in keeping with the temporality outside the image — with the time it takes to read Frydlender’s picture.

Israel provides one of the most stirring illustrations of the power of the vernacular to open up a culture. The informality of Israeli society — the inevitable result, I guess, of the pressures of its history: has any society ever been so in need of techniques of relaxation? — was certainly a factor in this development; and the impatience of Israeli society, too. But the emancipation from religion – and from its magnitude, which survived even in some of its antagonists: free-thinking used to mean more than shopping! — also had a lot to do with it. The poets were the primary agents of the breakthrough. When, in a love poem, Yehuda Amichai replaced the light of the moon with the light of the refrigerator, he freed his readers for the recognition of the poetry of their own demotic circumstances.

Pictures that take time to make and time to see: in our mindlessly accelerated way of life, which seeks above all to abolish time, these pictures are genuinely subversive. Slowing anything down is an act of contemporary heroism. For the spectator, Frydlender’s work provides the rare satisfaction of being stopped.

Why is the quotidian always so startling in art? Because of the discrepancy between the means and the ends. Methods that once were consecrated to the representation of the highest subjects

The panoramic size of Frydlender’s


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views, from a window

are employed upon more modest themes, but with no loss of consecration. The physical usurps the metaphysical, but with no loss of scale. Perhaps this is what the moralists meant by the grandeur of humility. “Down Here” was the title of Frydlender’s show at the Tel Aviv Museum some years ago. Down here, not up there — or even more simply: humanism.

“The act of photography is like going on a hunt in which photographer and camera merge into one indivisible function. This is a hunt for new states of things, situations never seen before, for the improbable, for information. The structure of the act of photography is a quantum one: a doubt made up of points of hesitation and points of decision-making.” — Vilém Flusser, Towards A Philosophy of Photography, 1983

Il e a n a S e l e j a n Rehearsal (2011–2014): Palm trees punctuate the horizon, as the color gradient diminishes with the sun. Alongside we notice the bell tower and a section of the façade of St. Peter’s Church in Old Jaffa, a seventeenth century structure built over a thirteenth century fort, historic site of pilgrimage, worship and rest, once marking a point of entry into the Holy Land. To its left a minaret rises from the evening haze, atop the agglomeration of domestic architecture and city mass. Orange light bathes the street in the foreground, vehicles parked along its side, bicycles locked around a “no entry” sign on the corner, marking the end of the street around the bend. Lampposts spotlight two men operating remote controlled model cars. We catch a glimpse of an interior through an open door behind them: a table, a chair. Moving closer, another figure tosses a piece of clothing, with a tall, almost nonchalant gesture, over a pile of stuff gathered in front of their feet. Further towards us, attached to the rearview mirror of a car, a ribbon cordons off another pile of debris, fallen from the adjacent roof or façade. The building lies silent and dark, in various stages of finish, and renovation, from one floor to the next: storefront shut on the first, a band practices on the third, the latticed windows frame two young men playing guitars and a woman, her back turned towards us. Above them someone painted “for sale,” and a number to call. Most of the activity is concentrated either at street level, or above, where we notice the rooftop garden next door, with its ornate canopy (even a shower head) calmly awake. Domestic spaces spill out their contents, and private objects begin to inhabit the neighborhood’s streets. No space is entirely contained, as these close encounters reveal. Worn exteriors and lived interiors interchange, the traces of their use on display. The group of residential buildings occupies most of the picture plane, a solid mass behind which lies


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Views, from a Window

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the sea, for now cut off. The volumes seal our plane of vision, within the frame, and we are left to imagine what lies beyond. The viewer’s attention draws back to the scene. Each situation plays out carefully composed, highlighted against the cityscape, and we see them in dialogue across: the two men, leisure, the solitary figure, destitution, the music, the silenced traffic, the solemn light, surfaces, and things, dirt, trash.

In an alternative reading, he becomes a signifier, of the generic types of city dwellers that populate architectural renderings in development and urban revitalization plans. Close-up the landscape lies ruined in details reminiscent of the city’s not yet distant, violent past. In the midst of these dramatic urban transformations, throughout the photographs on view, we see several familiar structures, and specifically a familiar corner, recognizable due to its soft, outward projecting curves (see Flood and Raid from 2003, Rehearsal made between 2011–2014 and Noach from 2014). Repetition monumentalizes this central construction, an example of the type of International Style residential architecture built throughout Tel Aviv in the thirties, during the British Mandate for Palestine and through to the fifties, following the declaration of independence of the State of Israel. From a relatable distance we witness instances from the life of a domestic structure turned artifact, its “evolution” described both in subjective and objective terms — the use of its residents and exposure to the environment, recorded in the various states of finish, and decay. Its reoccurring presence accommodates a graver, and therefore more unsettling sense of being and self. One should make note of the transformation of the built environment around, while less desirable for developers, still appealing to the historian’s eye. In its last iteration, Noach (2014), a worker washes clean the newly paved sidewalk. Orange trees line up the side of the street, while bougainvillea lusciously crawls up on the freshly painted façade. Up on the first balcony, now restored, a couple embraces, while a third figure gestures towards a there, in the distance; from the yard of the neighboring, and mostly unseen, Israeli Defense Forces History Museum, a protruding artillery gun appears haphazardly positioned in response to the man’s gaze. An oasis of green surrounds the building, leading up to the rooftop where an urban garden and patio is tended to by a relaxed middle-aged couple in their swimsuits, within view of a party one level above, in the building next-door.

The photograph is part of a larger body of work by Barry Frydlender, and documents the contemporary urban environment of Tel Aviv and Jaffa, narrowing in on the area located in the immediate proximity of the artist’s studio. Made between 1998 and 2014, the photographs in the exhibition represent a composite study of architecture and urbanism, infrastructure and economics, as well as socio-political dynamics, concentrated within a few blocks of the apartment, and expanding from its windows across the panoramic line of sight — Composite Horizon (180 degrees) (1998) shows a rendering of precisely this view. Working from the structural constraints of the studio (interior space, position of windows, height relative to street), and through close observation, Frydlender trains his camera to isolate distinctive situations and events, interactions between individuals and groups. Once processed, the resulting images show circumstances that might appear accidental at first glance, yet are in fact carefully constructed, and thus representative of larger processes at play. Mundane events take on the gravity of theatrical productions unfurled against the background of the sprawling, vertically expanding cityscape. Compared to previous groups of work where such “found” situations were emphasized (see for instance the End of Occupation? series from 2005 where politically charged actions and interactions between participant individuals constitute the central subject) in this most recent work the perspective widens, allowing the backdrop to become an equally active participant in the unfolding drama, most powerfully exemplified in Falling Bricks (2013).

The apartment building makes an earlier appearance to the left of Composite Horizon (180 degrees) from 1998. On the roof, a group of people, mostly children, probably of Arab Palestinian descent, watch jet planes trace the Italian flag across the sky during a military air parade; a man stands by the balcony door on the second floor, provoking an exchange of looks between all the observed, photographer included.2 To the left, at street level, under the gaze of several groups of men, a woman walks towards the dance club at the end of the street, closing the narrative arc on a city notorious for its lack of sleep. Within the spatially continuous panoramic picture plane, temporal progression is broken, and previously disassociated events begin to coincide. The artificially expanded field of vision flattens the adjacent sea-bound neighborhoods along the city’s North-South axis, hence drawing attention to the materiality of the picture — a conceptual strategy, questioning the assumed truthfulness of the photographic image. Overlapping surfaces begin to “look” unreal, and the dyed tricolor smoke adds a particularly absurd touch.

Here, the third person observer situates himself at a point of convergence, on higher ground. During the past decade, due to the economic expansion and gentrification of Tel Aviv, urban development has accelerated, and, as Frydlender’s photographs testify, previously lower income, working class, industrial neighborhoods located in the South of the city, comprising historic sections of Jaffa, began to be renovated and redesigned to accommodate wealthier residents.1 To the left, Eilat street, one of the principal routes that was to connect Tel Aviv and Jaffa according to the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan, recedes into the distance towards the rising verticals of the cranes and towers of North Tel Aviv. Two modernist buildings take possession of the central background, stacked volumes and patched up façades pressed up against the seamless glass towers reflecting the sky. Through a window of the renovated apartment building, on the third floor we notice a woman; clothes dry neatly on racks outside her balcony, and nothing seems to disturb the domestic scene. In stark contrast, the foreground disassembles right in front of our eyes. A male figure stands amongst the piles of debris and scrap metal, humanizing the landscape.

To the immediate right of the apartment building, an earlier version of the IDF History Museum, with its military arsenal didactically on display, which is the subject of yet another image, Flood from 2003. Here groups of high-school students line up along the sides of the street leading up to the museum entrance. Unable to leave due to the flooded street, they wait perched up along the sides of the building, bodies precariously balanced, as a chain-

The complex history of Tel Aviv and Jaffa, of urban development and city planning seen in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has been the subject of numerous publications, most recently Sharon Rotbard’s 2005 White City, Black City, Architecture and War in Tel Aviv and Jaffa, forthcoming in English translation, Mark Levine’s Overthrowing Geography, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, and the Struggle for Palestine, 1880–1948 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), Barbara E. Mann, A Place in History, Modernism, Tel Aviv, and the Creation of Jewish Urban Space (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006) and Tali Hatuka’s Violent Acts and Urban Space in Contemporary Tel Aviv, Revisioning Moments (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)



Yaffo-Tel Aviv


Views, from A Window

Views, from A Window

Conversation with the photographer, March 26, 2014

Yaffo-Tel Aviv


reaction is triggered by a small wave splashing against the steps. Packed with powerful signifiers, the tableau opens itself up to various readings; several critics have commented on the significance of the wave as a Biblical reference.3 Under the pretext of a seemingly trivial incident, and by association with other details equally open to metaphor (the torrential rain, the flood, the pigeons on the rooftop), the scene is thus infused with a variety of alternative, and coextensive meanings.

Even more up-to-date, Google Street View (launched in 2007) makes use of similar staging devices and digital manipulation procedures, mapping the world inch by inch, at street level. Passers-by, although blurred, address the dispassionate technological eye. Revising the continuum of images generated at different points in time, the software easily skips through linear space and time, enabling temporary dissociations between present, future and past similar to those in Frydlender’s pictures. Raid (2003) constructs a situation where such a repeatable scenario is foretold: around the street corner, groups of armed military, police, intelligence agents in civilian dress, and passers-by gather during a raid, or in its immediate aftermath as the sense slowed down movement might indicate. Actions are frozen midway, and without a clear sense of where they begin and where they end, they remind one of ancient Greek and Roman friezes where figures gesture and display movement, unable to release. We witness the situation from a distance, unable to identify the actors involved; their faces have been blurred as a precaution, to protect the photographer, and the circumstances of their action remain undisclosed: who is the suspect and why? Here the watcher — the state surveillance apparatus — becomes the watched, and then again roles reverse, within the same picture plane. Space becomes a philosophical entity, a place of enquiry where meaning can no longer be safely secure.

The attention to detail is formidable, almost obsessive, and consistent throughout Frydlender’s work; we contemplate the photographer’s skill in isolating significant moments from the mass. Simultaneously, one begins to notice how eerily coincidental these moments appear, and in certain instances the seamlessness tears, revealing discontinuity — how could those events indeed coincide? The technique is precise to the millimeter, in relation to each pixel, and here indeed is where exactitude is key. Since 1994 Frydlender has worked exclusively with digital images, painstakingly composing, stitching through software, hundreds to thousands of photographs.4 Taken through periods of time that can range from hours to days, months, and even years, the RAW originals are never manipulated in terms of their content. Stubbornly, the photographer insists on the accuracy of the captured instants. There are no actors, or rehearsed events, with the exception of the photographer who takes on the part of the director, inviting the viewer into the space of the picture. All critical readings rely upon one’s recognition of the fluidity of interpretation, a questioning of the authenticity and truthfulness that we still ascribe to documentary images.

Views from the windows of the studio, almost an instinct for any photographer; the orientation of his gaze, bringing the outside in, and pushing the inside out for a breath of fresh air. In front of the camera, the city, as landscape unfolds. The very first photographic images were views from windows, starting with Nicéphore Niépce, who in the summer of 1827 photographed the scene outside the window of his provincial estate. “Points of view” “taken from the room where I work,” he would write throughout the correspondence from those years. Henry Fox Talbot first photographed the latticed window of his home, Lacock Abbey in August 1835. Then, in 1838, Louis Daguerre photographed the Boulevard du Temple from his studio window, capturing, by accident and for the first time, a human figure at pause. The power of a single detail, if caught, to give shape to the whole.

Narrative time can no longer be reconstructed from this point on. Yet despite this break, the images maintain their immediacy; the smoke from the jets begins to dissolve, while in another image the rain is still falling. It just stopped, in yet another. Frydlender’s previous career as a photojournalist and the years spent documenting war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict take a stand here, retaining the photographs in the present moment, indeed by breaking their inner causality, their cause and effect. Fragmented realities are hence bound together within composites, unified fields that can only co-exist within fictional space. Outside, the multiplied original snapshots fall apart de-constructing the frame. Perhaps this is a type of Realism that we are more prone to react and relate to, a version of history painting more appropriate to our digitized spectacular age.

Making pictures — as action and act (to return to Flusser), demands a profound awareness of our place in the world, alertness as to the utmost significance of location, the pressure of daily, weekly, monthly, yearly coordinates onto the biographical patters that define our lives. Perhaps alternative routes through the past, and its associated memories are possible, generative of more peaceful futures in turn. For now, Frydlender’s views position the viewer at the margin of landscapes in permanent transformation, “hunting,” searching through the photographic memory of their pasts.

Exploring such uncanny ordinariness, the presence of ambiguity, contradiction and even absurdity within the texture of our day-to-day, became an important concern for artists contemporary with Frydlender, tellingly Jeff Wall and Stan Douglas, both of whom used the city of Vancouver extensively as both backdrop and subject for their photographic work.5

See: Peter Gallasi, Barry Frydlender, Place and Time. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2007) and Moshe Ninio, ed. Down Here. (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2007).


The only exception in the exhibition is Composite Horizon (180 degrees) (1998) where analog photographs were scanned, and later recomposed with the use of software. One should note the edges of the print, indicating the spatial alterations, and repositioning of the individual prints so as to create a realistic representation of the actual cityscape. In all the other examples the sections of missing information i.e. pixels, have been cropped.


Jeff Wall’s A View from an Apartment (2004–5) for instance activates a type of interior — exterior exchange that is similar to Frydlender’s work; the primary difference being the focus on the situational domestic setting, as opposed to outbound events and gestures grounded in the cityscape.



Yaffo-Tel Aviv

Views, from A Window

Views, from a Window

Yaffo-Tel Aviv


ya f f o

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Yaffo-Tel Aviv

Barry Frydlender



Composite Horizon (180 degrees), 1998



Rehearsal, 2011–2014



Raid, 2003



Flood, 2003

Noach, 2014



Cranes, 2005



Glimmer, 2004



Falling Bricks, 2013


Y a ff o - T e l A v i v : war and towers

sharon rotbard Patching hundreds and sometimes thousands of pictures, Barry Frydlender’s photographs of the borderland between Jaffa and Tel Aviv reveal an overwhelming, detailed image of a city in full, rapid and violent mutation. In each one of those photographs, one can easily observe human scenes that may had taken place from an hour to another or from day to day; but in order to really understand the complexity of this dramatic change, it would be necessary to project the same careful, detailed curious gaze, on the city itself and on the changes that occur between one photograph and the next. Derekh Yaffo, the historical Jaffa Road, is one of the four historical roads that connected the old city of Jaffa with the country’s other urban centers. Since Tel Aviv’s foundation, Derekh Yaffo has been commonly named Derekh Yaffo-Tel Aviv, or Jaffa Tel Aviv Road; but officially, after Jaffa’s annexation to the first Hebrew city in 1950, the road was sliced to three segments- today called Derekh Eilat, Derekh Yaffo — Tel Aviv and Derekh Menahem Begin. Derekh Yaffo-Tel Aviv is the soon to be traffic-jammed narrow street that makes its way from behind the yellow Arab Bauhaus building at the center of Barry Frydlender’s photograph Falling Bricks to the left bottom corner of the image. Geographically, Barry Frydlender’s photos were taken from the hyphen that separates Jaffa from Tel Aviv, from two locations on the southern side of the seam which lies between the two cities. The borderland between Jaffa and Tel Aviv is complicated. On 11 May, 1923, the British mandate authorities officially approved the borderline that separates Tel Aviv from Jaffa. This serpentine borderline was partially composed by the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway (built by Turkish authorities in 1892 and demolished in 1950 soon after Jaffa’s annexation to Tel Aviv), by the various claims of land ownerships, and by pressure from the two parties or within them. Whilst the western part of Jaffa Road remained in Jaffa and its eastern part

War and Towers

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became part of Tel Aviv, a short segment of it, which appears in Falling Bricks, became the borderline itself. Despite the impulses of breakup, separation between the two cities has never been totally hermetical and definitive: few Hebrew neighborhoods, such as Neveh Tzedek — Jaffa’s first Jewish neighborhood that decided to defect to Tel Aviv — were historically ambiguous; other neighborhoods, such as Florentin that appears in the right upper side of Falling Bricks, were left within the jurisdiction of Jaffa. After Jaffa’s annexation to Tel Aviv few other administrative borders (municipality, police) were added. Strangely, those borders do not always overlap.

that gradually transformed it to a vast tabula rasa. The results of the war made Tel Aviv’s obstruction unnecessary; it opened the path to the demolition of the Gymnasium building, to the extension of Herzl Street northward, and finally to the erection of Shalom Tower — Israel’s first modern office tower, that for three decades stood as the country’s tallest building. The 1948 war also enabled the reconstruction of Manshieh as a new business district titled “The Textile Center” (Planners: Amnon Niv, Amnon Schwartz, Dani Schwartz). The development of this new complex, completed by the end of the 1970’s, encouraged Tel Aviv’s municipality to connect it to with the business district located at the city’s historical core, and pioneered by the Shalom Tower. This plan was met by various planning and administrative obstacles, but in the beginning of the 1990’s when the insurance company “Zion” decided to develop a new office building at Rothschild Boulevard a new breach was opened (Architects: Yasky-Sivan).

Chronologically, Falling Bricks (2013) is one of the latest images in this series, which is comprised of seven landscape photographs taken from 1998 and onward at the border area between Jaffa and Tel Aviv. With two earlier photographs, Composite Horizon (180 degrees) (1998) and Cranes (2005), Falling Bricks reveals the results of a two-decade dramatic process in which Tel Aviv devours Jaffa. The same process is revealed, in different manners, also in the other group of photographs taken from Frydlender’s apartment that follow the transformation of a decayed Palestinian Jaffa building into a neo-pseudo-Bauhaus Tel Avivian whitened box.

The importance of the Zion building, a relatively insignificant office building, resides in the precedence it set for other tall projects planned at Tel Aviv’s city center. Without Zion, the municipality would have had to abandon the grand scheme of the “wall” that connects Manshieh to the Shalom Tower and that encircles Neveh Tzedek. Keen to gain more building rights, Zion’s developers had the ingenious idea to propose to the municipality the financing of an old International Style building’s restoration and, in exchange, to receive an addition of a few more floors. The municipality accepted the deal; Zion was erected and soon thereafter, Tel Aviv’s skyline started to change: the first photograph, Composite Horizon (180 degress), in which the Shalom Tower still stands alone, is indeed an image from another century; in the latest photograph, Falling Bricks, the Shalom Tower is already hidden behind a wall of new high rise buildings — the 1 Rothschild residential tower (Architect: Avner Yashar) and the neighboring Africa-Israel office tower (Architect: Yasky-Sivan).

Falling Bricks is the only photograph in the show that wasn’t taken from Frydlender’s apartment. Currently, its view is blocked by the building for which Falling Bricks’ bricks have fallen. As evident in the number of cranes in the background, a few more towers will appear in the neighborhood in the near future. According to Tel Aviv municipality’s plan, by the end of this decade, a chain of office and residential towers is expected to complete the encircling of the picturesque Neveh-Tzedek which’s greenery and red roofs filled the center of Composite Horizon (180 degrees). Falling Bricks might also be interpreted as the thick “wall” of tall buildings that is now being erected between north and south, Tel Aviv and Jaffa, White City and Black City. At the center of Falling Bricks, cut by the photograph’s framing, stands the 44 storied “Neveh Tzedek Tower”, one of Tel Aviv’s tallest residential towers and most scandalous architectural schemes. The tower, also nicknamed “The French Tower” due to the fact that most of the apartments are used as pied-à-terre of wealthy French businessmen, only overlooks Neveh Tzedek and the sea while turning its back to the other parts of the city. Despite its official name, that borrows some reputation from the Neveh Tzedek neighborhood, the tower is not located in the neighborhood itself — which is protected by strict conservation regulations — but within the borderland, where zoning plans are much more bendable. Completed in 2007, it was the first tower built in the “wall” that is planned to divide Tel Aviv and Jaffa; soon, it will be flanked with six more high-rise buildings now under construction on the northern side of Yaffo-Tel Aviv Road.

When staring at Barry Frydlender’s photographs, one cannot avoid thinking of the countless stories, figures, miniatures and details residing in Georges Perec’s imaginary Parisian building at 11, Rue Simon-Crubellier of his novel “Life A User’s Manual”. Like Perec, Frydlender took upon himself the task to observe the “infra-ordinary” and to record with extreme diligence the slightest detail, the least important event. Beside the myriad of little stories — the informer and the policeman in Raid, the restaurateur and his young wife in Noach, the contractor and the bulldozer in Falling Bricks — Frydlender’s photographs tell us a broader tale, a tale of two cities, one a predator, the other a prey.

On March 2, 2006, when reaching the 11th floor, Neveh Tzedek Tower’s crane collapsed, causing the death of two workers and heavily injuring eight people, workers, drivers on Yaffo-Tel Aviv Road and a pregnant passerby. The crane appears on the right side of Cranes. Inaugurated in 1965, the 34 storey Shalom Tower (Architects: Yitzhak Perlstein, Gideon Ziv) was built on the plot of the Herzliya Gymnasium, Tel Aviv’s most important public building in its early days, which until 1948 served as the official cul-de-sac of the city, blocking Hertzel Street, the historical city’s main street from connecting to Tel Aviv’s closest enemy the Muslim neighborhood of Manshieh and to the beach. During the 1948 war, Manshieh was severely devastated and in the following years suffered several waves of demolition


Yaffo-Tel Aviv

War and Towers

War and Towers

Yaffo-Tel Aviv


barry frydlender

Group Exhibitions 2013 Perchance to Dream, Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York, NY The Compromised Land: Recent Photography and Video from Israel, Neuberger Museum of Art, NY


Born 1954, Tel Aviv, Israel Lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel

1980 Section of Film and Television, University of Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel

Solo Exhibitions 2014 Yaffo-Tel Aviv, Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York, NY 2011 Travelogue in Pictures, Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York, NY 2008 Israel: Present Perfect, The Jewish Museum, Paris, France 2007 Place and Time, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY Barry Frydlender: Pictures 1994-2006, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel 2006 New Work, Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York, NY 2005 Rencontres de la Photographie, 36th Edition, Arles, France 2004 The Fourth Dimension, Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York, NY 1987 Photographs 1982-1987, Photography Center of Athens, Athens, Greece 1985 Café Kassit, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel 1983 Café Kassit, Nikon Gallery, London, England


Yaffo-Tel Aviv

Barry Frydlender

2012 Paris Photo 2012, Andrea Meislin Gallery, Paris, France The Urban Condition – Works from the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel A Prayer is a Prayer is a Prayer, Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York, NY Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, Toronto, Canada Emerging Realities, GE World Headquarters, Fairfield, CT 2011 From the Recent Past: New Acquisitions, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA 2009 Hugging and Wrestling, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland Vague Terrain, The FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY From There to Here, Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 2008 War As a Way of Life, The 18th Street Arts Center, Los Angeles, CA Real Time: Art in Israel 1998 – 2008, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel Access to Israel II, The Jewish Museum, Frankfurt, Germany Dateline Israel: New Photography and Video Art, The Jewish Museum, Berlin, Germany Art of the State, The Jewish Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Access to Israel I, The Jewish Museum, Frankfurt, Germany, Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley, CA A Matter of Time, Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York, NY Dateline Israel: Recent Photography and Video, The Jewish Museum of Maryland, Baltimore, MD 2007 Dateline Israel: New Photography and Video Art, The Jewish Museum, New York, NY Moods and Modes in Israeli Photography, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel Engagement: Israeli Photography Now, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel Current Visions, Inside Israel (Part 2), Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York, NY

Barry Frydlender

2006 Art of Living, The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA DISENGAGEMENT, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel 2005 New Work / New Acquisitions, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY The New Hebrews: A Century of Art in Israel, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany Chaim-Life: Israel through the Photographer’s Lens, The Laurie M. Tisch Gallery, The Jewish Community Center (JCC), New York, NY 2004 Current Visions, Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York, NY Water, Water Everywhere, Andrea Meislin Gallery, New York, NY 2003 Here and Elsewhere, Passage de Retz, Paris, France Youth Love, Riding Power Station, Tel Aviv, Israel Young Israeli Art, The Jacques and Eugenie O’Hana Collection, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel Public Space, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel 2002 Chilufim: Exchange of Artists and Art, The Israel Museum, Jerusalam; Herzliya Museum of Art, Herzliya, Israel Kunstmuseum Bonn, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum (Krefeld), Museum am Ostwall (Dortmund, Germany) Explora Digital Art, Kalisher Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel 2001 Tel Aviv-Berlin: New Media Experience, NOVALOG, Berlin, Germany 1999 Urban Landscape, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel 1998 Double Rivage, Centre Regional d’Art Contemporain, Sete, France After Rabin: New Art From Israel, The Jewish Museum, New York 4 Artists, Le Quartier Centre Regional d’Art Contemporain, Quimper, France Mad Media, Arad Museum, Arad, Israel 1997 Ainsi De Suite, Centre Regional d’Art Contemporain, Sete, France A Delicate Balance, The Light Factory Gallery, Charlotte, NC 1996 Black Holes: The White Locus, Haifa Museum, Haifa, Israel

Yaffo-Tel Aviv


1994 Black Holes: The White Locus, International Biennale of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil Anxiety, Ramat Gan Museum of Israeli Art, Ramat Gan, Israel Art Focus, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel 1991 New Acquisitions, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel Patterns of Jewish Life, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany 1989 Warm Light, Helsinki Museum of Photography, Helsinki, Finland 1987 City Light, Goldsmiths College Art Gallery, London, England

S e l e c t e d B i bl i o g r a p h y 2013 Woodward, Richard. “New Collections of Life: Exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, ‘Perchance to Dream’ at Andrea Meislin and by Jehad Nga,” The Wall Street Journal, NY Culture, 28 June 2013 2012 Winograd, Annabelle. “Meeting Place,”, March 7, 2012

1986 The Israeli Photography Biennial, Ein Harod Museum of Art, Ein Harod, Israel

2011 Baskind, Samantha & Larry Silver. “Jewish Art: A Modern History,” Reaktion Books, 2011 Exhibition Review. Artnews, September 2011 Meyers, William. “Seeing Double and More,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2011

1985 From the Bible Till Now: 3000 Years of Art, Grande Palais, Paris, France

2010 Wei, Lily. “Where History Becomes Art,” Art In America, January 2010

1982 Floods of Light, Photographers Gallery, London, England

2009 Litt, Stephen. “Exhibit on Israel is First Rate,” The Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 12, 2009

Monographs Barry Frydlender: Place and Time. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Barry Frydlender: Down Here. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Barry Frydlender; Israel: Présent Composé. Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme.

2008 Rothschild, Adam. “Barry Frydlender’s Pitzutziya,” Gastronomica, Winter 2008 MoMA: Highlights since 1980. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2008 Vetrocq, Marcia. “Rules of Engagement,” Art in America, June / July 2008 Bronner, Ethan. “A Synthesis Into Modernity In Israel,” International Herald Tribune, May 21, 2008 Bronner, Ethan. “Artists Absorb Israel’s Six Decades, Move On,” New York Times, May 19, 2008 2007 “International Snapshot,” Hadassah Magazine, December 2007 Sheets, Hilarie M., “Barry Frydlender, Museum of Modern Art,” ARTnews, September, p. 150-151 “Almanac 2007: Israel,” Arts Asia Pacific, p. 156-157B Woodward, Richard B. “Theater of Combat,” ARTNews, March, p. 120- 125 Grosz, David. “Conflict in High Resolution,” The New York Sun, March 15, 2007 Camhi, Leslie. “Art; Fragments of Israel, Assembled Into a Whole,” The New York Times, May 13, 2007


Yaffo-Tel Aviv

Barry Frydlender

Yarnell, Kolby. “Snapshots of One Place & 100 Times,” The New York Sun, May 17, 2007 Grosz, David. “From Shore to Gursky, Part II,” ArtInfo, June 6, 2007 Eskin, Blake. “Wider Angle: Barry Frydlender’s Panoramic Take on Israel,” Nextbook, June 27, 2007 Wolff, Rachel. “The Annotated Artwork,” New York Magazine, July 30, 2007, p. 72-73 Roalf, Peggy. “Mysteries of Life in Israel Revealed,” Design Art Daily, May 17, 2007 Woodward, Richard B. “Composites of the Real World,” Aperture Magazine, Summer 2007 2006 Aletti, Vince. “Barry Frydlender,” The New Yorker, May 8, 2006, p. 14 Kleeblatt, Norman. “Israel’s Traumas and Dreams,” Art in America, May 2006, p. 106-113, 115 Grosz, David. “Hard Lines and Gentle Curves,” Arts & Letters, The New York Sun, April 27, 2006 Camhi, Leslie. “Multiple Perspectives,” The Village Voice, April 19-25, 2006, p. 72 Woodward, Richard B. “Altered States,” ARTnews, March 2006, p. 104-109 2005 Wolinski, Natacha. “Photo Reportage,” Beaux Arts, November 2005, p. 78-85 Leffingwell, Edward. “Barry Frydlender at Andrea Meislin,” Art in America, April 2005, p. 154 Woodward, Richard B. “Reality Bytes,” ARTnews, February 2005, p. 108, 110-111

Aw a r d s 2010 The Sandberg Prize for Israeli Art, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem 2001 The Leon Constantiner Prize for Photography, Tel Aviv Museum of Art 1985 The Gérard Lévy Prize for a Young Photographer, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

C o ll e c t i o n s The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA The Jewish Museum, New York, NY The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA The Museum of Contemporary of Art, Los Angeles, CA The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY The National Collection of Contemporary Art (FNAC), Paris The Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel

2004 Frankel, Stephen Robert. “Barry Frydlender Review,” Art on Paper, November/December 2004 Goddard, Donald. “Art Reviews,” New York Art World Online, October 2004 Calendar Feature, The New York Sun, October 7, 2004, p. 17 Camhi, Leslie. “Life in the Unholy Holy Land,” The Forward, October 1, 2004, p. 12-13 Aletti, Vince. “An Israeli Photographer and His Panoramic Time Machines,” The Village Voice, September 15-21, 2004, p. 94 Baqué, Dominique. “Ici, la-bas et ailleurs,” Artpress, No. 297, January 2004, p. 90

Barry Frydlender

Yaffo-Tel Aviv


Interior Back Cover Flood, 2003 (Detail)

a n d r e a m ei s li n g a l l ery

ISBN: 978-1-4951-0996-6

Barry Frydlender "Yaffo-Tel Aviv" 2014  

Fully-illustrated catalogue to accompany Frydlender's solo-exhibition at Andrea Meislin Gallery, NYC. Opens May 8 - June 21, 2014. Includes...

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